News & Blog

Please Dress Modestly

Yesterday I broke the Internet. Today it was my wife’s turn.

You see, we live in a pretty diverse neighborhood, Crown Heights, in which there dwells a very large Orthodox Jewish population. The Orthodox communities in New York aren’t exactly known for their tolerance of outsiders. In the past, they have forced women to sit in the back of public city buses, painted over bicycle lanes in the street because they deemed bicycle pants on women to be “immodest,” tried to gender segregate a public park, and so on and so on. Yesterday, a sign mysteriously appeared in our neighborhood, wrapped around a public utility pole. Alexa took a photo of it on her way home from work:

In case you can’t read it, it says, “Dear Resident, Guest, Visitor, please dress modestly. This is a Jewish neighborhood.”

Aside from the generally outrageous tone of the sign telling adults how they should dress, it is actually illegal to post private signs on public property. Furthermore, Crown Heights is not only a Jewish neighborhood. You can’t walk two blocks here without coming across a church, either freestanding or storefront. There’s a huge Caribbean and African-American population here, not to mention Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians, etc. etc. etc. It’s an extremely diverse neighborhood. The sign tries to “other” everyone who isn’t part of the orthodox community by claiming ownership of the neighborhood and addressing everyone else as merely residents, guests, and visitors. Fuck that.

So Alexa sent the pictures to a few places online. Failed Messiah and Gothamist both picked up the story and ran with it, reprinting not just Alexa’s pictures but also the email she sent with them. I’m so proud of her! I can’t wait for her to blow up the Internet again! In the meantime, the sign is still there. I wonder if it will be tomorrow.

In other news, I was quoted by the CBC in an article about those creepy dolls that were appearing on doorsteps in California. Everything’s coming up Internet!

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